A History of Warrenton, North Carolina

Warren County Court House - Warrenton, North Carolina

On July 22, 1779, when the town of Warrenton was laid out by William Christmas, King George III was on the throne and the American Revolution was in its fourth year. In 1764, Bute County had been carved out of Granville County and named in honor of John Stuart, Earl of Bute, former Prime Minister and Lord of the Treasury, and who was despised in England when he came to the colonies.

On January 10, 1779, a committee of Bute County citizens petitioned the General Assembly to divide the county in half, and the northern part was named Warren County after Dr. Joseph Warren, who had been killed at Bunker Hill. The southern part was named Franklin County after Benjamin Franklin, the great American.

The year before, virtually every man in Bute County, numbering more than six hundred, had committed treason by swearing an oath of allegiance to the state of North Carolina and against King George III. Many served in the county militia and saw action during the American Revolution. Direct descendents of those Patriots still live in Warrenton.

The petition to divide Bute County was approved by the state Legislature and the history of Warrenton began with the victory of true liberty. They no longer had to use the odious name of Bute County. Tobacco provided Warren County with a large financial flush. In later years it was cotton. Two physicians were in practice, the first court house was built, and churches were founded.

In Warrenton, education was a priority, followed by architecture, music, dancing, art, and horse racing. In 1786, the Warren Academy was founded by the Macon brothers, one of whom, Nathaniel, would become one of the greatest Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, DC. Theater began with the appointment of Marcus George, actor and scholar, as principal of the new Academy. He taught Greek, Latin, and general education. More fine schools followed. John Liddell was a dancing master in the early town.

Beautiful homes were built as centerpieces of the large plantations, and in time, town houses were constructed that were jewels. Warrenton became an axis for two important mail routes for the burgeoning national postal service. The cotton gin brought more prosperity to the locals.

In 1800, the town's population was 238. By 1830, there were approximately 700 inhabitants.

In 1860, Warren County would become the richest in North Carolina. Warrenton would even own its own railroad - the Warrenton Railroad, completed in 1884. It was a 2.9 mile connector to the main railroad in Warren County and it continued in operation until the line was closed in 1985.

Warrenton was granted a US Post Office on March 20, 1793, and its first Postmaster was Mr. James Turner. It has been in continuous operation ever since.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved